Eddie Howe reveals his view on the fitness levels of Newcastle United's players following criticism of Steve Bruce's regime
Eddie Howe has revealed his view on the fitness of the Newcastle United squad he inherited.
Those players not on international duty had an “intense” week of training in preparation for tomorrow’s home game against Brentford.
“The players have responded really well to what we've asked them to do,” said Howe. “It's been intense, but I don't think we've over-worked the players. We've tried to implement our philosophy in a steady way, and shape the team in the way we want to going forward."
Coaches Steve Agnew and Stephen Clemence – who assisted former head coach Steve Bruce – left the relegation-threatened club during the international break.
And Agnew rejected criticism of Bruce's training regime following his departure.
“To say there were too many days off, or that the players got off lightly, is out of order,” said Agnew. “Whenever we did give them time off, it was only after taking advice from the sports scientists.
“Of course, you’re always judged on results, and the fact is this season we knew we were under the pump, because it just didn’t happen for us.”
Howe assessed the fitness of the squad after taking charge, and the players did a six-minute “bleep test” last week.
Asked about their fitness levels, Howe said: “Whenever a new manager goes into a new club, one of the first things he looks at is fitness levels.
"It’s not disrespect to anyone’s regime, it’s just that you want a bit more from any group you take over. I’m no different, so I’ve come in and wanted a little bit more out of them.
"They’re a fit group, but I think we can top that up, and just make them a little bit stronger, and, late in games, hopefully that can make the difference for us.
"We’ve implemented a couple of changes to their training to try and help us with that, but, ultimately, they’re fit and they have shown that. The stats show they haven’t been too bad fitness-wise, so it’s just more a case of getting 2-3% more out of them.”
Newcastle, without a win so far this season, are 19th in the Premier League table.